What I learned from not traveling

Maria Magdalena
3 min readDec 12, 2021


From weekly flying schedule to once a month to none. Zero. My lifestyle drastically changed when the pandemic hit in early 2020. I have not been flying out of Singapore, a city-state I called home for the past 14 years, and it still feels weird to this day.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 2019 — picture taken by yours truly

My last flight was to go back to Singapore before 14 days quarantine policy started. I changed my flight schedule last minute, flew the day itself without saying proper goodbye to my parents and friends. Little did I know that I would not go back for a while.

As 2021 is ending and some travel lanes and countries are opening up, I realised not being able to travel for a while brings conflicting feeling and I’m going to share the positives.

To be more present

Looking back, there were two year period when I was neither here nor there. My job required me to fly out on Monday mornings and go back Thursday evening, hotel staffs knew me by name. It was my escape and my reason not to spend more time with people. I was always rushing through things, always restless, my soul was never completely in one place.

I don’t have that excuse now. These two years I learned to sit in the same place for hours without thinking of my flight the next day. I learned to be present at the moment

To make the best out of what I have

You only need an hour (more or less) to go from the most western part to the most eastern part of Singapore by car. This small plot of land is where I was confined for the last two years. Pre-pandemic, I was always looking forward to traveling overseas, South Korea and Hong Kong are my top two destinations for flights less than 10 hours. In 2018, I visited Seoul three times for various reasons and enjoyed it every time.

With travel restriction in place, I started to explore more places in this city. Parks and cafes are my go-to. I visited the zoo. My wish list includes kayaking at the river, stand-up pedalling at the beach and going the northern part to see Malaysia.

To be more committed

Not in a love relationship, not yet.

With my previous semi-nomadic lifestyle and my eagerness to fly somewhere and see new places, commitment seemed like a hindrance. To put it differently, I was committed to my job and traveling.

But being stuck in one place for so long made you do things you never imagined. I bought a puppy and I was fully aware that puppy came with commitment, full time. Nothing came easy; I experienced sleepless nights, worried when the puppy vomited, spent money for its needs, but never a single moment i regretted that decision.